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Cookbook Revolutionaries: East Hampton Chefs Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey

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“The grandest picnic of all time” on Gardiner’s Island with (left to right) Pierre Franey, Jacques Pépin, Roger Fessaguet, Jean Vergnes, and René Verdon, 1965. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

“The grandest picnic of all time” on Gardiner’s Island with (left to right) Pierre Franey, Jacques Pépin, Roger Fessaguet, Jean Vergnes, and René Verdon, 1965. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

By Tessa Raebeck

In the early ’90s, Pierre Franey hit a deer while driving in Springs. Always dedicated to using the freshest ingredients in his cooking, the famous chef tossed the carcass in his trunk and brought it home to make venison. When he opened the trunk when he arrived home on Gerard Drive, however, the deer that was supposed to be dinner jumped out and ran away.

Although it didn’t work out that evening, Mr. Franey and best friend and collaborator Craig Claiborne are widely credited as being the fathers of the fresh food movement.

The duo, who wrote weekly food articles, restaurant reviews, countless recipes and co-authored 10 books over a 20-year collaboration, will be honored by the East Hampton Historical Society at a new exhibition, “Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey: Cookbook Revolutionaries in East Hampton,” which will have an opening reception next Friday, May 30.

Although they came from vastly different backgrounds, Mr. Franey having grown up in Burgundy, France, and Mr. Claiborne in Sunflower, Mississippi, the friends found common ground in their love for cooking, fresh ingredients and the East End. Mr. Claiborne and Mr. Franey both lived in Springs, surrounded by famous friends and creative spirits.

Mr. Claiborne, raised on southern cuisine in the kitchen of his mother’s boarding house, used his G.I. Bill benefits from serving in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War to attend school in Switzerland. In 1957, he started a long-time career as food editor and restaurant critic for The New York Times. In addition to vastly broadening the scope of the paper’s dining coverage, his columns and cookbooks introduced ethnic cuisines, such as Asian, Cajun and Mexican food, to a generation of Americans known for their love of frozen TV dinners. His “New York Times Cookbook” became “one of the most bought and sought cookbooks of its generation,” according to society director Richard Barons.

“People are still using the recipes,” he added. “It’s not like some cookbooks that just sort of disappear. The “New York Times Cookbook” is still a viable force in the kitchen.”

Best known for his popular TV cooking shows like “Cuisine Rapide” and his “60 Minute Gourmet” column, also in The New York Times, Mr. Franey first came to the U.S. to cook in the French Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. He stayed stateside, working for various companies, and was hired by the Times in 1975 to be a core figure in its brand new Living section (now the Dining section). His column was a huge success, ultimately appearing in over 360 newspapers worldwide. Mr. Franey authored or co-authored (most often with Mr. Claiborne) 15 cookbooks and a memoir during his lifetime and had several television shows, including “Cooking in France,” which won the James Beard Foundation Award for best cooking show in 1995, shortly before his death.

The pair, who became fast friends, met in the 1950s when Mr. Franey was working at Le Pavillon, “one of the great restaurants in the history of New York” according to Mr. Barons.

“They began to talk and it just sort of developed into this wonderful relationship where they would share ideas, share restaurants, share recipes,” Mr. Barons said.

Together, Mr. Franey and Mr. Claiborne championed fresh ingredients, diverse dishes and, in essence, good, nutritious food.

“The 1940s and ’50s was not an era of particularly creative cooking,” said Mr. Barons. “It didn’t stress fresh things, it was an era that was still captivated by canned goods and, particularly by the 1950s, the whole wonder of frozen vegetables and frozen food… it really was a Wonder Bread world.”

“They were very free form in thinking in their food. They weren’t stodgy in any sense of the word; they kept very up to date, which is probably the reason they did so many cookbooks,” Mr. Barons said, adding that there are some 50 cookbooks between the two of them, including salt-free and low calorie recipe books and those that contain recipes that take less than an hour to prepare.

Pierre Franey and Craig Claiborne cooking in Mr. Claiborne's kitchen in the Clearwater neighborhood of Springs in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

Pierre Franey and Craig Claiborne cooking in Mr. Claiborne’s kitchen in the Clearwater neighborhood of Springs in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy East Hampton Historical Society.

“We just assume that these things have always been done, but we begin to realize that so much of it was codified during that period,” he added.

They brainstormed recipes at Mr. Claiborne’s house—a gigantic kitchen with bathroom and bedroom attached as an afterthought—and hosted meals in Mr. Franey’s backyard overlooking Gardiner’s Bay.

One of the most famous gatherings prepared by the pair was a picnic on Gardiner’s Island hosted by Mr. Claiborne on August 1, 1965. Often called “the grandest picnic of all time,” the event was held for Robert David Lyon Gardiner and attended by a smattering of celebrity chefs and famous friends.

“These were extraordinary events,” Mr. Barons said, adding that Jean Vergnes, Lauren Bacall and Danny Kaye were some of the guests.

Photos from the picnic, weddings and other events, as well as cookbooks, newsletters, the French copper weathervane that hung in Mr. Franey’s kitchen, the French china Mr. Claiborne served meals on and an early American wooden bowl that Mr. Claiborne gave his friend as a housewarming gift when he moved to East Hampton will be on display at the exhibition, as well as many other artifacts.

“Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey: Cookbook Revolutionaries in East Hampton” will be on exhibit from May 31 through July 13 at Clinton Academy, 151 Main Street in East Hampton. An opening reception will be held Friday, May 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit easthamptonhistory.org or call 324-6850.

Pork and Craft Beer Festival Brews in Bridgehampton

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A plate of pork dish available at the Topping Rose House Restaurant. Courtesy of Topping Rose House.

A plate of pork dish available at the Topping Rose House Restaurant. Courtesy of Topping Rose House.

By Tessa Raebeck

Why pork?

“Well, ’cause it goes great with beer,” said Ty Kotz, executive chef at the Topping Rose House, which will host its first Pork and Craft Beer Festival Saturday afternoon.

With the rapid growth of craft breweries on Long Island, East End chefs now have the opportunity to expand local menus beyond homegrown produce and meat to also include the homebrewed.

After spending an afternoon enjoying beers at a few of the local breweries, Chef de Cuisine Kyle Koenig and his wife, Jessica, the restaurant’s beverage director, came up with the idea for the festival, which will feature myriad  innovative pork dishes and craft beers from eight breweries.

Topping Rose House Restaurant Executive Chef Ty Kotz. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

Topping Rose House Restaurant Executive Chef Ty Kotz. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

“We decided, let’s partner with Niman Ranch, where we get a majority of our pork from, and let’s try to get very local brewers together and do a few of our favorite things—to barbecue and have some really great beer,” Mr. Koenig said Monday.

Niman Ranch and New York City-based DeBragga, which supply meat to Topping Rose, quickly signed on as sponsors, as did The Independent, Southampton Publick House, Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Moustache Brewing Company, Long Ireland, Crooked Ladder, Port Jeff Brewing Company and Montauk Brewing Company. A representative of the Montauk Shellfish Company will also be on hand shucking fresh Montauk pearl oysters.

“It’s kind of like any chef’s hobby to do tons of stuff with pork,” Mr. Kotz said. “And we kind of just started going nuts, so we’re going to have this huge spread.”

The chefs are preparing five different types of sausages grilled on a live station, tables of charcuterie, house made terrine, various vegetable sides, house made sauerkraut, sliders, chicharrones, and bacon, to name a few dishes—and the menu is still being expanded.

“We’re still throwing stuff on the bandwagon, our flyer is just a smidgeon of what’s actually going to be produced,” Mr. Kotz said.

Two machines will spin hand-carved pork shawarma, layered meat similar to Greek gyros and Turkish kebabs that spin on a stick vertically. A pork belly will be marinated Indian-style, then sliced to order, put in a pita and served with fresh vegetables. The other spit-grilled meat will be a Mexican-style pork shoulder al pastor.

Guests can also enjoy several porchettas, dishes in which the chefs take the whole loin of the pig, wrap the belly around the loin and cook it as a single piece, resulting in a savory, fatty and moist roast.

“It’s boneless, but because it’s essentially the loin wrapped in bacon cooking, it’s very tender and juicy and you get this incredible, incredible flavor,” Mr. Kotz said.

One table will feature charcuterie slicing with prosciutto Americana from La Quercia, an Iowa company that uses all heritage breeds of pigs to make rare American-made prosciutto.

“It’s just extraordinary,” Mr. Kotz said, “because they don’t salt it as much, so you can actually taste more of the pork.”

Pastry Chef Cassandra Shupp is “doing all kinds of stuff” for the festival,  Mr. Kotz said, including making “everything” potato rolls and pretzels that are the chef’s take on everything bagels.

“Everything sticks to what we do here,” Mr. Kotz said, “and that’s local and farms.”

All the meat at the festival is naturally raised and antibiotic free with no hormones.

“So, not only is it just a bunch of pig, it’s pig you want to put into your body,” he continued. “It’s what we believe in and what [Topping Rose Chef Tom Colicchio] believes in. It’s really pushing for better food in our food system in America.” Knowing the benefits of better nutrition,  the restaurant tries to “really practice what we’re preaching” he added.

A pig roasting at the Topping Rose House. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

A pig roasting at the Topping Rose House. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

Expanding that practice from the plate to the pint glass was an obvious and easy choice, as the local breweries were eager to join in on the festival.

“They were all like, ‘absolutely,’” Mr. Kotz said, “We didn’t have to twist their arm to be a part of this. This is an excuse to get a lot of people together with a lot of great food.”

Incorporated in 2010 and opened just two years ago, the Montauk Brewing Company has grown rapidly, with its beer now available on draft in about 200 locations from Montauk to the Queens border of Long Island.

Montauk Brewing is bring its flagship beer, Driftwood Ale, and the newly released Guardsman Stout to Saturday’s festival.

“The style is an extra special bitter, and relies on its balance between malt and hops for its drinkability,” Montauk’s Vaughan Cutillo, co-founder and brewer at MBC, said of the Driftwood Ale.

“Driftwood Ale turned out to be a beer that paired well with our local foodshed—from beef to fish to local greens and, most importantly, pork—the beer just worked and we couldn’t be happier,” he added.

Released this winter, the Guardsman Stout is a smooth, bold beer that’s dark in color with a “roasty” finish.

“Our beer recipes to date have accompanied a variety of dishes from our local community, and we would like to continue this tradition,” Mr. Cutillo added. “Doing too much with a beer can sometimes destroy the intentions of the chef. Instead, our beer truly pairs with the meal. The beer and the meal are enjoyed and their nuances complement one another.”

The Pork and Craft Beer Festival is Saturday, May 3, at the Topping Rose House, 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. VIP admission is $125 and grants access to an exclusive hour with the brewers and chefs at 12 p.m. For $100, general admission grants access to the festival, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information or to reserve a space, email mpoore@craftrestaurant.com.

Doppio East to Open Sag Harbor Spot in Former Madison & Main Location

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dee-cuisine-doppio-pasta

By Tessa Raebeck

Known for artisanal pizzas and authentic Italian cuisine, Doppio Artisan Bistro will be opening a new location in Sag Harbor this spring, at the 126 Main Street spot previously occupied by Madison & Main.

The restaurant, Doppio East, will offer a raw bar, small plates and pizzas fresh from the dining room’s new brick oven.

As roommates at Fordham University, executive chef Louis Barresi and partner Thomas Pescuma dreamed of opening a restaurant together. While Pescuma worked in financial services, Barresi and his brother Joseph founded Doppio Artisan Bistro in Greenwich, Connecticut three years ago.

Following the first restaurant’s success, the duo joined with Harry Armon, Pescuma’s partner in a financial consulting firm, to found The Timeless Hospitality Group. The group opened Doppio Huntington in April 2013 and a French bistro, Barrique Restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut, two months later. They bought a Hudson Street location in New York City in the fall and are opening Doppio NYC this month.69928x471

Their latest venture into good food, Doppio East is a casual bistro set to open as early as March. Having visited the area every summer, Pescuma “got the urge” to open a location on the East End.

After purchasing the space occupied by The Paradise last year, Madison & Main co-owners Michael Gluckman and Eric Miller performed extensive renovations to the building’s interior. Pescuma said the new owners plan to keep many of the layout changes, such as leaving the bar by the restaurant’s front entrance. A brick pizza oven will warm the room from the back left corner.

Not yet finalized, the Doppio East menu will have many of the Italian staples from the restaurant’s other locations, with added seafood options and a full raw bar. It will feature pizzas, 10 to 12 piattini (small plates), appetizers, soups, salads, Panini, meat and seafood dishes, and, of course, pastas. All Doppio East dressings, breads and pastas will be made in house.

Coming straight from the brick oven, the selection of 10 to 15 artisan pizzas will include the signature Doppio pizza: butternut squash puree, mozzarella di bufala and pancetta finished with the finest extra virgin olive oil.

Large groups at Doppio typically order several pizzas and small plates. Ranging in price from $6 to $25 at the Huntington location, the dishes include: Clams Al Doppio, top neck clams, fresh herbs and panko bread crumbs; Polenta E Funghi Al Tartufo, a mixed wild mushroom polenta with truffle oil; and Polpo Alla Griglia, a “very popular” char-grilled octopus dish with fennel, arugula and citrus.553135363

The fresh pastas are done “Carpaccio style,” Pescuma says, meaning the house made pasta is baked in tinfoil and hand rolled. In addition to classic dishes like fettuccini Bolognese and meat lasagna, Doppio offers high-end dishes such as Pappardelle al Ragu D’Agnello, or house made pappardelle with braised lamb shank ragu, and Fusilli in Cartoccio, which features hand rolled pasta, porcini mushrooms, baby heirloom tomato, truffle oil and mascarpone cheese and is “the biggest seller as far as pasta goes,” according to Pescuma.

On bread baked in house, the Fiorentina Panini has skirt steak, caramelized onions and melted Gorgonzola dolce, while the Salsiccia Panini is filled with sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe and fresh mozzarella.

The partners are looking forward to adding several new dishes to the Sag Harbor menu; including a new chicken Chianti and at least one lobster dish.

“The plate size, despite the name, is actually pretty big,” Pescuma says of the piattini, adding that they may scale the size down and lower the prices for the Sag Harbor spot, although nothing has been finalized.

Doppio East plans to have regular live music and nightly bar specials on drinks and small plates and is “definitely going to be open year-round,” Pescuma said, adding the venue is ideal for private events.

Doppio East is opening this spring at 126 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit timelesshospitalitygroup.com.